The Oakland have selected Missouri righthanded pitcher Brett Graves in the third round of the 2014 MLB Draft. Graves, a St. Louis native who attended Francis Howell High School, had been drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 26th round coming out of high school but chose to attend Mizzou instead. With him now going 23 rounds higher, it seems as if he made the right decision.
Graves is ranked as the number 80 draft prospect by MLB.com, while Baseball America has him ranked at 60. While Graves has some nice developable skills, he’ll need to do quite a bit of work before he’s ready for the big leagues. He throws a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90s and tops out at 97, and his slider and changeup still need to be developed. Throughout his college career, his numbers really haven’t looked like those of a future big leaguer. While he was the anchor of the Mizzou staff this spring and led the team in strikeouts, he went 3-6 with a 3.87 ERA. Opponents hit .271 against him. As a sophomore, Graves was 2-5 with a 3.80 ERA, which actually was an improvement over the 6.32 mark he put together as a freshman, a disappointing number which is nonetheless expected of most first-year pitchers making an adjustment to the elevated level of play. In fairness to Graves, he was dominant in his summer league in 2013, pitching for the Newport Gulls of the New England Collegiate Baseball League and going 4-0 over six starts with a 1.01 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP.
The most interesting thing to watch with Graves might be his size. His thin, 6-foot-1 frame was detrimental to his draft stock coming out of high school, and it may hurt him again depending on how big he is now. There’s a discrepancy of almost 20 pounds over Graves’s current weight, as he’s listed at just 173 pounds by Mizzou but is listed at 190 by MLB.com. It’d be most rational to side with the school’s listing, but it’s often difficult to know the truth with these kinds of issues.
Here’s some video of Graves pitching for the Gulls last summer: